Sermon; Pentecost B w/Baptisms; Acts 2:1-21
Alleluia. Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.
Today is the Day of Pentecost. It is 50 days after Easter and the day the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples in a great, violent rushing wind with tongues of fire, causing them to speak in the languages of the Parthians, Medes, Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Pamphylia, Phrygia, Egypt, Cyrene, and Rome. Everyone they spoke to understood the good news which they were proclaiming. Some who heard it claimed that the disciples were drunk; but Peter stood up and said, “We're not drunk – it's only 9 o'clock in the morning.” He then goes on to talk about the Spirit of God being poured out on all people.
We are gathered here today to witness a small part of that prophecy. Today we are gathered to witness God's Spirit being poured out on sons and daughters. None of us knows what visions they will see, what dreams they will dream, or what they might prophesy, but all here are witnesses to the beginnings of the Spirit-filled lives of Dash, Olivia, and Valerie.
These three people will make promises or, in the case of Dash and Olivia, have promises made on their behalf. Then they, and all of you, will recite the Baptismal Covenant which lays out the basics of our Christian faith and behavioral examples of how we are to shape our daily lives. Additionally, you all will be asked if you will support these three people in their lives in Christ.
For you all, that last one is an added responsibility, and a responsibility that we take on with every baptism. At every baptism we, as a community of Christians, promise to support the newly baptized in their life in Christ. And for all of us, the newly baptized included, we promise to live into certain standards, expectations, and behaviors.
This is a tall order. To be honest, none of us can do it on our own. This is why the congregation is asked if they will support these persons in their new life; to which you all respond, “We will.” We all recite the Baptismal Covenant, which asks the questions that should shape our lives, and we answer, “I will, with God's help.” This reminds us that we can't do these things without relying on God, but we are also reminded, and we acknowledge, that this Christian life takes a community of support.
This endeavor we are on, this journey, is not an easy one. It is no pleasure cruise where we can sit back on the lido deck with mimosas in hand enjoying the soft breeze and sunshine. Instead, that soft breeze we may hope for is a rushing, violent wind. That warm sunshine we may want to bask in is tongues of fire that always carries the risk of burning us.
This is where we have chosen to be: in the midst of violent winds and tongues of fire. This is where our newly baptized are choosing to be. We are in a place that is sometimes comforting, sometimes difficult, and always dangerous.
I say, “always dangerous,” because in here you might come across something that severely challenges your beliefs, maybe even causing a crisis of faith. It's dangerous because you might find yourself called by God into a totally new way of being, leaving behind all that you find comfortable. It's dangerous because here there be angels, archangels, cherubim, and seraphim – those beings whose first words are almost always, “Fear not.” It's dangerous because we are in the holy presence of the living God.
But despite the challenges and despite the danger, we choose to enter this holy place. We choose to create and be a part of a community shaped by God's love, working to proclaim the good news of the gospel, and supporting each other to the best of our ability. We are bound together by a common call, a common understanding, a common meal, and common prayer. It is into this community of faith that we invite and welcome Dash, Olivia, and Valerie.
So, Dash, Olivia, and Valerie, we welcome you into the household of God. We invite you to learn with us, to suffer with us, to pray with us, to eat with us, and to be changed with us as we work to live into a resurrection life. And may the Spirit of God fill you, and us, with such power that we proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God in a way that everyone we speak to can understand.